Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) is Scotland’s largest anti-violence schools programme operating in more than 20 local authority areas from Shetland to the Scottish borders. MVP aims to empower students to safely speak out against all forms of violence from rape and sexual harassment to bullying and abusive behaviour.
“It encourages you to not be silent, to not be a bystander. When you see a situation it makes you look at what you can actually do, I could maybe help.” MVP student mentor
The programme was first developed in America where it is has become one of the country’s longest-running and most influential violence prevention initiatives operating in high schools, colleges and within the military. Seeing the potential of the scheme the SVRU decided to adapt the programme and bring it to Scotland in 2011 when it was successfully piloted at St Stephen’s High School and Port Glasgow High School in Inverclyde and Portobello High School in Edinburgh. Working in partnership with Education Scotland it is now operating in more than 150 secondary schools.
“Many more pupils are willing to stand-up against gender violence and all types of socially unacceptable behaviours, when in the past more often than not pupils did not want to be seen as a grass.” Depute Head
Based on the ‘bystander’ approach MVP motivates everyone to get involved in safely challenging abuse. The programme sees students as a school’s greatest resource in achieving this and trains senior pupils to act as peer mentors who then deliver sessions to younger students in the school. Over the last five years more than 6,000 fifth and sixth year mentors have been trained, with the mentors going on to deliver around 2,000 lessons a year. Sessions target issues such as bullying, gender norms, domestic violence, knife crime and harmful sexual behaviour.
More recently MVP has been adapted to work in both higher education settings, workplaces and Scotland’s night time economy with pubs and clubs embracing the scheme as a way to help keep customers safe. There has also been expansion of the programme outside Scotland on a not-for-profit basis.